Amnesia remains a goalie's best friend. It's now forgotten that Antti Niemi got yanked multiple times in the Sharks' first-round series against Los Angeles. Some thought he would be a serious liability against the Red Wings, his confidence lacking along with his save percentage. Niemi and Jimmy Howard have been equally brilliant in net through the first two games. These were two of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL during the regular season, but they have combined for only a total of six goals through two games. But the difference in these first two games is that the Wings wasted Howard's sterling efforts, whereas the Sharks soared a little higher emotionally thanks to Niemi's performance. Nothing rattles a team more in a tightly contested playoff series than a goalie suddenly leaking oil. But Niemi was the biggest star of the first two games. "He was outstanding," said San Jose defenseman Ian White, who tallied the game's first goal in Sunday's Game 2. "He made some huge saves. It boosts the confidence of the whole club. You can feel it out there. When your goalie's hot, everybody rises up and plays that much better." It's funny how it can change that quickly with a goalie. He's a hapless sieve one minute, but the next minute, he's impenetrable. Look at Vancouver's Roberto Luongo. After giving up a shorthanded goal late in regulation in Game 7 against Chicago, he morphed into a brick wall for almost 120 straight minutes before surrendering a fluke goal against Nashville in the final seconds of regulation in Game 2.
Sharks' Antti Niemi winning battle in goal vs. Red Wings
Detroit Free Press | May 2